Your Training Year: Looking Back Before You Look Ahead

Does it make you squirm trying to remember where you started last year?

If so, I’m curious about that.

It’s a little uncomfortable, isn’t it… you’ve increased your strength (or muscle, etc.) but you can’t be sure how much. Or you haven’t made much progress and you’re not sure why.

Tracking my glute growth this year

Clearly I’ve gained muscle in my booty (and maybe a little fat!). Regardless, tracking lets me know where I stand and what to do next.

Making new goals (or resolutions, if you dig that) means looking back first. How’d you do this year? If you did set goals and didn’t reach them, did your priorities change, did you forget your goals, or did you get derailed by a life event? Or maybe you just got lazy. Either way…

Before We Go Any Further…

It’s really, really important we don’t beat ourselves up for not reaching goals.

Progress isn’t a straight line. There are months when things rock and you’re taking ab selfies like crazy. Other months you can’t remember where your abs are. We take steps forward and then backward. Then forward and back again. Stay positive – there is no “ugly.” If you didn’t do something perfectly, then you learned from it (hopefully) and even corrected it already.

Time to Set New Ones

To get to one-year goals, we need to set a series of short-term goals with a long-term vision (called micro-goals). For example, you want to increase your pushups by five reps within six weeks, but in one year you want to be doing handstand pushups. One year from now you want to know: How’d I do? How much farther do I have to go?

Start here:

  • Set micro-goals to help you change ingrained habits.
  • Keep a training log so you can look back at your progress.
  • Take your measurements at regular intervals.
  • Take progress pictures every six to eight weeks too, in the same clothes, time of day, etc.
  • Most importantly, follow a structured training program instead of program hopping and to keep you accountable.

2013: The Good and Improved Upon

Here’s what I did well and what I improved upon!

The Good

  • I took creatine for the first time from January to April to see just how much muscle and strength I could build. I added 3/4″ to shoulders and increased my pull ups by 3-4 reps. I admit, I enjoyed my foray into creatine very much. My performance was crazy. I looked amazing, too… I was lean and pumped. So this goal was a success… if you don’t count the overuse injuries (see “Improved Upon”).
  • I increased my pull ups from 30 reps in nine sets to 30 reps in six or seven sets. In March I started a program that calls for doing 30 pull ups in as few sets as possible. At some point I did eight reps in the first set. Not. Freaking. Bad.
  • I grew my glutes, baby. I put half an inch on the ole’ backside. That doesn’t seem like much, frankly. It gets harder when you’ve been training for-evah. But I have to say, my bum looks a whole lot bigger. Feels bigger too. I love my booty now… it’s my favorite feature. I’d call this a crazy success. How did I do this, you ask? I put myself on a more structured training program. I write programs for my online clients all the time; how come I wasn’t doing it for myself? A structured training program is how I finally started seeing results in my lower body. Plain and simple.

The Improved Upon

  • I acquired elbow tendinitis, my achy shoulder returned, my hip hurt on and off, and I even had calf pain. What a bitch.In retrospect, my upper-body injuries were probably caused by training hard for three months nonstop. The creatine energy boost was too intoxicating and I paid the price. My pull-up program might have played a role too, so I don’t recommend you do it for more than a few weeks at a time. I also tried a very high-volume shoulder program. The tendinitis took three months to settle down and the shoulder remained an on-and-off scourge until I figured out how to fix it. But I did fix it myself using trigger point therapy, rest, and adjusting my programming.
    If you choose to use creatine, schedule in deload periods every four to six weeks. Deal? As far as my hip and calf issue, that was resolved with some shoe manipulation. Yay me.
  • Since I track my body fat percentage I can estimate that it’s two or three percentages higher in the last few months. I have to be careful though, not to count bloat! But I know it’s there and I want it gone. That’s all I need to know to proceed (no self-flagellation).

What’s in Store for 2014

Now it’s time to look ahead. I see what I did right and not so right and I can use that to build new goals. Here are just three goals I can think of (more are in the works).

Reduce Body Fat by Two Percent

What’s the best way for an already-clean-eater to lose just a little body fat? I help my clients with this all the time! I’ve already started cleaning up my diet by decreasing calories and increasing activity. This isn’t enough, most likely, so I’ll be putting together a more concrete plan to make this happen. Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing it here and in my subscriber newsletter.

Increase Pull ups

Of course! I’m now working on getting those last two pesky reps into six sets. It’s easy to plateau with pull ups, so I’ll be mixing in eccentric pull ups along with band work.

Remain Injury-Free

I’m excited that  I’m ending 2013 with no injuries or ailments. I’ve learned so much about how to stay injury-free. I’m committed to doing what it takes, including more deload periods and integrated low-intensity days.

In the coming year, know where you stand and map out where you’re going. You’ll get there sooner, I promise.

Happy New Year!

21 thoughts on “Your Training Year: Looking Back Before You Look Ahead

  1. Great post Suzanne as always!!! I love that you stopped to say don’t get down on yourself!!! I don’t do resolutions anymore & although it may be a goal – I don’t call it that – I just have decided that trying to be the best I can at things I try is what is best for me & less stressful on me. I got too crazy in the past. I am older so I know how I want it to go – healthy aging. 🙂

    I did order some creatine from a gift cert I won because I have had success in the past so curious what it is like now at this age vs. the early 40’s.

    I wish for you no injuries too!!!! You look great!


    • I’m with you, as I get older I look more and more at the cost/benefit of what I do. Just not worth it to tweak something in the name of being cool. You’ll be doing creatine again? I can’t wait to hear how that goes for you! Thanks as always Jody!


  2. First off, I cracked up several times reading this post, primarily at the thought of taking a selfie of my abs or being excited about having bigger glutes. 🙂 But I applaud your successes and love the good advice…am thinking about what goals to set for my next 6-12 week increment. Happy New Year!


  3. A training log really helps you stay on track for the whole year. Without it, it’s too easy to fall off the bandwagon and forget your goals. I like that you think of it as a map – you do have to know where you’re going to get there. Best of luck with your resolutions!


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